Hello and Welcome to Week 14 of the Wise Not Withered Character Showcase! This week I am proud to present Tala, our 103-year-old Magical Blessing-Granter! The illustrator for the oldest character of the entire project is Zahra, from Iran.
I absolutely adore the illustrations that Zahra made for Tala. She worked so hard, creating five fully colored, incredibly detailed pictures. In the sketching and initial coloring stage, I asked her to completely change the aesthetic of the character, which I understand is no easy feat and something I should have told her sooner. But she did it! She was amazing to work with, and I love the illustrations she made so so much.
Illustration by Zahra Gholamijalal
The interesting thing about this character is that her illustrations are done, but I have yet to find a writer. The original person who was going to write the story for this character had so many great ideas and we were in contact for many months, but before the story was finished, she just disappeared, and I have not heard from her since last June.
It's a shame, but the show must go on! This is actually something that has happened quite a lot during this project, an issue that I did not see coming but makes a lot of sense that it would happen. At the beginning I thought okay, I have recruited all of these people for this project. I'll send them the character list one week, pair them up the next week, then get started right away! It obviously ended up taking longer than that to wait for people to pick their preferred character, for me to pair people, and then get started. Then once we got started, sometimes it was mostly me and one other person (usually the writer) coming up with all of these ideas. Sometimes the illustrator was also very involved, but what ended up happening for a few of the characters is that the ideas we had after all did not match up with what the illustrator thought we were doing. So I have had to find new illustrators for quite a few of the characters.
With others, the work is not done yet, but they have continued to stay in contact with me, which I greatly appreciate! I understand that people have their own busy lives, and this passion project is not a source of income so it is not a top priority for any of the writers or illustrators—it's a priority for me, and I am the one coordinating and directing everything! I'm at a place now where I can still see a vision of the final product, but am waiting patiently, trusting that each part will be completed, sending reminder emails and texts, and letting go of people that I don't hear from for months. It's been an interesting process. I do my best to send only good vibes to the people that I drop from the team. No hard feelings, we simply must be moving forward.
Tala's story will be a very interesting one! Her gorgeous illustrations are all completed, and the writer I find will create the story in a backwards way, using the illustrations as a guide. One important thing about Tala is that, because she is the oldest character (age 103), she is the only one that is allowed to die at the end. There was some discussion with other writers about their character dying in their story, but I put my foot down and made it very clear that those characters would not be allowed to die—that would defeat the whole purpose of the project! Tala is special though, being the oldest character. I will discuss that with the writer I find though, and maybe she won't die. We'll see.
Illustration by Zahra Gholamijalal
The original writer I had found for this story was from the Philippines, and really into Philippine mythology. I would love to find another writer from the Philippines to create the story for Tala, but a different type of Asian would be fine too!
The description I wrote for Tala was this:
Magical Blessing-Granter — Age 103
- story starts with adventurers going to visit the magical blessing-giver, and you think it’s about them… but it turns out that SHE is the main character!
- brief exploration of how she got to be where she is, and what she gains from using her unworldly powers to help out those in need
- meditation/yoga teacher, practices every morning for herself too
- powerful illusionist: protects her land and people from ill-intended outsiders
I came up with this idea first while thinking of characters like the Great Fairies in The Legend of Zelda. These characters, like many other NPCs, sit in one place for the entire game, waiting for passing travelers to come and use their services. I thought it would be great to turn that around, and once the traveler leaves, the camera slowly pans back to the fairy-like person and you soon realize that SHE is the main character of the story!
It's always important to come up with a solid backstory for any character in a narrative, even if you never flat-out tell the audience. One of the ideas I came up with for Tala is that she has these beautiful wings that allow her to fly above her village and survey the area. These wings would not have always been a great advantage for Tala: for years she was shunned and ostracized, especially during the time that they were forming and growing. I haven't come up with why exactly she has wings, but I think it's important that she had a tough time accepting them earlier in her life, while now she embraces them and uses them to her advantage. They are a blessing after all.
I'm excited to see what story will come from the illustrations that Zahra made! Finding a writer for Tala's story is high on my to-do list, though so is finding an illustrator for Candace, editing and polishing some of the remaining stories... It's a lot to do. And I will get it done!
Thanks for tuning in to the Wise Not Withered Character Showcase! New episodes every Sunday (sometimes Monday) until mid-2020!